India’s border guards have tried to cover every inch of the Indo-Pakistan border in the world’s largest salt desert, Rann of Kutch. Now, they have turned to scientists to help the jawans survive the inhospitable terrain and set up more observation posts in marshy tracts.
The Border Security Force (BSF) has increased its presence along this stretch over the last decade by more than 20 times, most of it after the 26/11 Mumbai attacks demonstrated how terrorists could quietly infiltrate from the sea route with disastrous effects.
But this meant that the jawans had to start living along the border in a region where temperatures can reach up to 50 degree Celsius and the saline marsh under their feet can corrode anything that it comes in contact with.
That is, if they survive the vipers. Like constable Saiff-ud-din, who was administered 100 anti-snake venom shots this month before doctors declared that he would live.
“It isn’t called the world’s most difficult inhabited area for nothing,” a BSF officer said.
AK Sinha, who heads the BSF’s Gujarat Frontier, said the force was in touch with the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) and the Indian Institute of Technology for technological solutions.
Last month, the BSF started giving jawans a cool vest on a trial basis that can bring down their body temperature by 10 degree Celsius. “It looks like a sweater and has coolant pouches which last for five to six hours,” Sinha said.
The senior BSF officer said they had also approached IIT Gandhinagar to figure how to set up border outposts and observation posts in the land.